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posted on 24 March 2016

19 March 2016 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Insignificantly Worsens. Longest Streak Of Claims Under 300,000 Since 1973 Continues.

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims

The market expectations (from Bloomberg) were 260,000 to 272,000 (consensus 268,000), and the Department of Labor reported 265,000 new claims. The more important (because of the volatility in the weekly reported claims and seasonality errors in adjusting the data) 4 week moving average moved from 259,500 (reported last week as 268,000) to 259,750. The rolling averages generally have been equal to or under 300,000 since August 2014.

This release includes the annual revision. From the DOL:

This week's release reflects the annual revision to the weekly unemployment claims seasonal adjustment factors. The seasonal adjustment factors used for the UI Weekly Claims data from 2011 forward, along with the resulting seasonally adjusted values for initial claims and continuing claims, have been revised.

It should be pointed out that Econintersect watches the year-over-year change on the 4 week moving average. There is always some seasonality which migrates into the seasonally adjusted data, and year-over-year comparisons helps remove some seasonality. The four week rolling average of initial claims are 13.5 % lower (decline from the 12.2 % for last week) than they were in this same week in 2015.

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims - 4 Week Average - Seasonally Adjusted - 2011 (red line), 2012 (green line), 2013 (blue line), 2014 (orange line). 2015 (violet line), 2016 (light blue)

Claim levels are at 40 year lows (with the normal range around 350,000 weekly initial unemployment claims of levels seen historically during times of economic expansion - see chart below).

From the Department of Labor:

In the week ending March 19, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 265,000, an increase of 6,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 6,000 from 265,000 to 259,000. The 4-week moving average was 259,750, an increase of 250 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised down by 8,500 from 268,000 to 259,500. There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims. This marks 55 consecutive weeks of initial claims below 300,000, the longest streak since 1973.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.6 percent for the week ending March 12, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending March 12 was 2,179,000, a decrease of 39,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 17,000 from 2,235,000 to 2,218,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,206,500, a decrease of 13,500 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised down by 23,250 from 2,243,250 to 2,220,000.

Steven Hansen



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